Maintaining Structure and Routine during the Holidays after a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog

Maintaining Structure and Routine during the Holidays after a Traumatic Brain Injury

by Jessica Felix Jager, MSW, CBIS

The Holiday Season, although typically merry and festive, brings added pressures to our daily routine. With shopping, increased food preparation, house guests, frequent visitors, financial stress, and more demands on time, the inevitable occurs; A change in routine.   

Change, although it tends to be a good thing as it helps one become, too much change and in a short time span can produce negative results for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Survivors. Too much change could potentially result in: back tracking on earlier progress that was made and/or getting out of a set regiment thus having to re-learn areas that were previously mastered. Having a daily routine helps one stay on track with set goals, stabilizes a set schedule, and provides a framework in which repetition for specific tasks or activities can successfully be accomplished. The need for a set routine does not magically disappear when the Holidays appear. 

The principle used to maintain one’s weight during the Holiday Season can also be applied on a cognitive level in terms of maintaining structure. Many health magazines and articles stress that making the extra effort to keep some routine in eating habits and exercise is better than deciding to do none and then pick it back up after the Holidays. The same is true for those that have a TBI that have made some exceptional gains over the past year. If part of your daily routine consisted of walking 2 miles every morning to stimulate your brain and then doing special arm exercises to work through some paralysis acquired from your trauma, then you should try to incorporate those things even during the Holidays. Whatever your specific case may be, the fact still remains, it will be easier to continue on your schedule after the Holidays if you do not fully walk away from it.  

Having to re-master or re-attain something that has already been achieved can be one of the most frustrating things to face when trying to reach new levels of recovery or goals in your life. This year rather than back sliding and allowing yourself to just go with the hustle and bustle of the season, take the time to maintain your routine as close as possible. Your family and friends around you will understand and may even join you on some of your routines. After all tis the season to be with your loved ones, so get them on board and have them join you on that walk, or have them play some cognitive enhancing games as a family. When the New Year arrives you will feel far more accomplished if you were able to stick with your routine throughout the year all the way to the year’s close. 

May you all have a safe and happy Holiday Season and may you all find creative ways to incorporate some structure into the chaos that surrounds this time of year!

2 responses to “Maintaining Structure and Routine during the Holidays after a Traumatic Brain Injury”

  1. Wonderful to find you via Stacy Davis! Although my brother’s TBI is not from military causes, the strategies you suggest are helpful nontheless. Amazing how much impact routine can help with coping!

  2. This blog is really timely since I skipped my aerobics class this morning after going to a holiday party last night – as I sit here at my desk with coffee and a jelly donut, I am taking this message to heart and tomorrow I promise to be in my sweats at my exercise class!

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